Gritstone Trail – Part Three – The Final Frontier!

31 March 2024

This ramble completes our epic Gritstone Trail series of superb scenic walks. From Rushton Spencer, we proceed via ‘The Cloud’ and Mow Cop to the end of the Trail at Kidsgrove. Several other interesting names en route too! The distance is around 13 miles. There are no refreshments available during the walk. Please bring adequate food and drink with you. Don’t forget to put your clocks forward the previous evening.
     Our route commences at Rushton Spencer. After a short walk, we rejoin the Gritstone Trail alongside the River Dane. We quickly leave the river and ascend through woodland along a steep, narrow, wooded valley to Raven’s Clough. We then follow a narrow lane to reach the climb towards a prominent hill called ‘The Cloud’. This is a moderately steep, long climb. Anyone preferring not to ascend the hill may use a quiet country lane to circumvent it and meet the main group at Timbersbrook. ‘The Cloud’ itself is 343 metres above sea level and provides amazing views over the surrounding countryside. We descend along the other side of the hill by a more gradual slope and soon reach the picnic area at Timbersbrook, where we shall break for lunch.
     From Timbersbrook we descend gradually to Overedge and join the Biddulph Valley Way near Dane-in-Shaw. The walk along the BVW is very pleasant, as it clings to the edge of a steep-sided, wooded valley. To our right you may notice old mill buildings through the trees. Just north of Biddulph, we leave this path and join a track up past Higher Whitemoor Farm.
Beyond the farm, we turn south and proceed below Congleton Edge, up to the delightfully-named hamlet of Nick I’ th’ Hill. It literally is situated in a nick (or dip) in the side of Congleton Edge. A little way south we pass a tiny settlement called Pot Bank, where we join a road running along the top of the Edge. From here we are literally walking on the boundary between Staffordshire and Cheshire. There should be wonderful views across the Cheshire Plain towards Merseyside, The Wirral, Wales and the Peckforton Hills.
     A little beyond the viewpoints, we leave the road and proceed via a footpath to Mow Cop. Just before we reach the village, we pass a rock formation called ‘The Old Man of Mow’. Just beyond is Mow Cop Castle. We shall stop in the grounds here for a break. This folly was appropriately built as a picnic spot in 1754 for the residents of Rode Hall, which is way down in the bottom of the valley below us.
    Beyond the folly, we proceed along the High Street and turn right past a large Methodist chapel. In 1807 a large gathering here resulted in the foundation of the Primitive Methodist movement. Look out for the Parson’s Well in the wall opposite. We quickly descend to the bottom of the valley, partly on the trackbed of an old colliery waggonway.
For once, what goes down does not come up again! We make use of a canal along the valley bottom – all the way to the end of the Gritstone Trail. To begin with, we follow the Macclesfield Canal. Beyond Hall Green, we use a short branch of the Trent & Mersey Canal. You may notice the difference in architecture between the two canals. As we approach Kidsgrove, we cross the A50 on an aqueduct. We then descend to the main line of the Trent & Mersey Canal for the final leg of the walk. Notice the red colour of the water, rumoured to be the blood, sweat and tears of previous ramblers (not really!)
The official end of the Gritstone Trail is outside Kidsgrove railway station. We shall however proceed a little further, past the mouths of the historic Harecastle Canal Tunnels and climb a short way to the main road, called ‘The Avenue’. The coach will collect us here around 6:30pm, adjacent to St Thomas’s Church.
    Those amongst us who have completed all three legs of the walk from Disley can congratulate themselves on doing the whole 36 miles of the Gritstone Trail, plus a little extra. For once, there is no pub directly at the finish. We pass the Blue Bell Inn just before we reach the railway station at Kidsgrove, adjacent to a Lidl supermarket and around 5 minutes before the end of the walk.

Connect with us on Facebook

Connect with us on Facebook Rambling links

Latest walks

Latest rambling photos

Sutton in Ashfield Rambling Club

are proudly affiliated with The Ramblers Association The Ramblers Association